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Did Scott Walker Really Compare Himself to Franklin Roosevelt? Yes, Yes, He Did

By       Message John Nichols     Permalink
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When the current president of the federation heard the comparison of Walker and Roosevelt, he wrote a column for the Federal Times in order to "correct the misinformation" about the letter -- the original of which hangs outside his office at the union headquarters.

"It is clear that this letter was written to federal employees about the importance of not having strikes in federal agencies because of national security concerns. Nothing more," explained William Dougan...

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"To suggest this is evidence that Roosevelt -- the father of workers' rights to form and join unions -- shares an ideological lineage with Walker's union-busting tactics is outrageous and disingenuous. A voice in the workplace for teachers, firefighters and other public employees is not a matter of national security, it is a matter of dignity for workers."

Scott Walker is not the twenty-first-century embodiment of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Scott Walker is the twenty-first-century embodiment of Julius Heil, the right-wing Republican governor of Wisconsin who, after his election in 1938, sought to undo the job-creation initiatives of Phil La Follette, the great Progressive Party governor of the 1930s. Heil had no taste for Roosevelt, and the feeling was mutual. The governor clashed with unions, and his repeated assaults on the rights of Wisconsin workers would eventually be his undoing. As The New York Times noted, "[Heil] lost in 1942, largely because of his unpopular labor record."

Heil would never have suggested that he was "not unlike" FDR. It would have been absurd for the anti-labor governor to compare himself with the man who declared during the 1936 campaign, "Of course we will continue every effort to end monopoly in business, to support collective bargaining, to stop unfair competition, to abolish dishonorable trade practices. For all these we have only just begun to fight." If Heil had the audacity to make a comparison, FDR would have corrected him.

FDR is not around to correct Scott Walker. But the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees is around. "I can say with conviction and history firmly on my side that if Roosevelt was around today," says William Dougan, "he would lead the charge for workers' rights to unionize -- public and private."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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